Wildlife photographer George Turner lately came back from Tanzania, where he was honored with the opportunity to photograph some special chimpanzees on Rubondo Island. A shining example of animal protection, the Rubondo Island chimpanzee project dates back to the 1960s when a German conservationist called Bernhard Grzimek made it his mission to discharge zoo animals back to the wild.
Now, from that first starter colony, you will find more than 35 chimpanzees that inhabit Rubondo Island. With no previous rehabilitation or rehabilitation, the founders of the colony could build their own shelter and hunt for food in the wild after only a year, with every successive generation easily settling into their instinctual behaviors.
After five days of traveling and a 60-mile hike, Turner had 3 hours to shoot in such magnificent, strong animals. His trip was a part of a chimp habituation adventure run in collaboration with the Tanzania National Parks and eco-tourism firm Asilia Africa, which permits the public to become a part of the scientific project. Currently, the Rubondo Island chimpanzees are divided into different groups on the south and north sides of the island. The northern group is part of the habituation undertaking, where an individual presence is slowly introduced over time and in a way that does not interfere with their natural behaviors.
Turner’s excursion was an adventure he’ll never forget, his patience rewarded with some exceptionally emotional moments. “The first encounter lasted over an hour, with the alpha male compliments us and ensuring that we were no danger,” Turner informs My Modern Met. “His stare is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. After he looked at us, he was looking at us, as individuals. It was apparent he was analyzing our faces, our behaviors, our every motion.”
Continuing to track the chimpanzees, Turner was rewarded with two hours of observation time whereas the chimps slept quietly in the bush. It was the perfect moment for him to find a prized photograph, but then something even better happened.
“Finally, just as I thought I would not get the ‘clear’ shot I had desired, the alpha man once more sought out me. Only 50 feet off, he sat peacefully and looked at me. After I had taken the picture, I snapped cooly back and secured eyes. But now, I get shivers up my spine remembering the moment.”
For Turner, his visit to Rubondo Island wasn’t only an opportunity to photograph these incredible chimpanzees. It was also a means to view how animal conservation and eco-tourism can coexist and, if done properly, they can assist funnel much-needed funds into projects that will help more species in decrease grow their populations.